The NYPD, Secret Service and US Marshals were on Friday night planning a defence of New York as concerns of unrest grew ahead of Donald Trump’s arraignment on criminal charges next week.
Officials were carrying out a “dry run” of the former president’s likely movements on Tuesday, starting with his presidential motorcade, followed by the arrest process – which includes how he will be fingerprinted and his mugshot taken – and how they will get him to the courtroom for his hearing.
Some 35,000 officers in New York, the US’s largest police force, were asked to report for duty in full uniform until further notice in a sign of the unprecedented threat.
Barricades have already been erected and security tightened outside the Manhattan Criminal Court, the district attorney’s office and Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.
Meanwhile, counter-terrorism police were seen stationed outside the building where the grand jury voted to indict Mr Trump on charges relating to hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
On Friday, Mr Trump’s lawyer said he “will not be put in handcuffs” for his arraignment. “I don’t know how all this is going to go down. There’s no textbook to see how you arraign a former president of the United States in criminal court,” said Joe Tacopina.
Mr Tacopina promised that his client would voluntarily surrender and was not going to “hole up in Mar-a-Lago”, referring to his primary residence in Florida.
Mr Trump, 76, had urged supporters to protest against what he called a “political witch hunt” ahead of the news of his indictment, echoing similar calls made in the lead up to the Jan 6, 2021 riots at the US Capitol.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican congresswoman and far-Right ally of Mr Trump, said she would lead a demonstration in New York against “Democrats plotting civil war”.
Ms Taylor Greene said at a conservative gala in Manhattan last December that if she had been in charge of organising the Jan 6 protests, “we would have won” and “it would have been armed”.
Authorities had for weeks been making quiet preparations ahead of the indictment of Mr Trump to avoid any repeat violence.
Mark Levine, the Manhattan Borough president, said the city was bracing for what may come, writing on Twitter:
What Trump accomplished when he broadcast his arrest two weeks ago and called for “protest”:NYPD and other law enforcement agencies have been planning and coordinating intensively for this moment.NYC is ready. If there is a Trump mob they have lost the element of surprise.
— Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) March 30, 2023
On Friday, Alvin Bragg, who has become the target of Mr Trump’s and Republican wrath, warned congressional Republicans to back off his office’s investigation into the former president.
“What neither the former president nor Congress may do is interfere with the ordinary course of proceedings in New York State,” he said in a statement.
Mr Trump has called Mr Bragg, a Democrat and the city’s first black district attorney, an “animal” and posted pictures of himself holding a baseball bat next to Mr Bragg’s head.
Ms Daniels, in an interview with The Times, said the charges were a “vindication”, adding: “Whatever the outcome is, it’s going to cause violence, and there’s going to be injuries and death. There’s the potential for a lot of good to come from this. But either way, a lot of bad is going to come from it too.”
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